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Light pollution

The increased use of artificial light can cause problems.:

  1. People's sleep being disturbed by bright lights.
  2. The brightening of the "sky glow" over towns and roads which obscures the night sky.
  3. Detrimental effects on wildlife.
  4. Concern about energy wasted by excessive lighting.

From 1 April 2006, light pollution was brought into the definition of a 'statutory nuisance'. This is defined as "artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance". It constitutes a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (provision added by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005).

Certain premises are exempt from this new law owing to their importance to the community, prevention of crime disorder and safety..

How to avoid causing light pollution

· Do not fit unnecessary lights.

· Do not use excessively bright lights, a 150 watt tungsten halogen lamp is quite adequate, 300 or 500 watt bulbs are too powerful for domestic security lighting.

· Do not leave lights on when they are not needed, consider controlling lights with passive infra-red detectors, ensuring that they are correctly aligned and installed. For a porch light that is going to be left on all night, a nine watt compact fluorescent lamp is normally adequate.

Talking to your neighbours

If you are experiencing light pollution from your neighbours try to speak to them and suggest the following possible remedies:

· Re-angling or partial shading of the light.

· Fitting of a passive infra red sensor.

· Using a lower power bulb.

It might help if you can show the neighbours the effect of the light from your side of the fence. You could also suggest that they may be wasting money on excessive lighting.

How can we help?

We can investigate complaints about both residential and commercial premises and need the following information:

· The address where the light is coming from and the name of the person responsible if you know it.

· How the light is affecting you.

· When and how often it occurs.

How will my complaint be dealt with?

In the first instance we will write to the causing the light problem and offer advice. Often people are not aware that they are causing a problem. However if the problem continues we ask you to complete a diary and return it to us. 

If the diary sheets are not returned we will assume that the warning letter has resolved your complaint and that no further action is required.

Once your record sheets have been returned the officer will contact you and discuss the case with you, setting out the method they will use to investigate your complaint.

What actions can we take?

The information you provide on the diary sheets will help the case officer to assess the light problem and decide what action can be taken.

We can take action if the light pollution is a nuisance in law (a "statutory nuisance"). We will assess the light to see if it is sufficient to be a nuisance.

We can then serve a notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 requiring the light pollution to be stopped.

Planning permission

Some lighting schemes need planning permission, usually as part of a building development of some kind. Lighting schemes for new building developments may have conditions imposed, as part of their planning permission, to ensure that no light pollution is created.  If such lighting causes concern, through any conditions being breached, Planning Services could take enforcement action. Please contact Planning Services for further advice.

Please contact Environmental Protection Services if you require further information or you wish to make a complaint about  light nuisance.